Last updateWed, 26 Feb 2020 1pm

The Retailer’s Perspective: So, that was Christmas

Last month I wrote about some of the craziness that was going to be brought into your store over the Christmas season - and I wasn’t talking about the good kind of craziness.  But, because of publishing deadlines, that column was simply a prediction based on the number of Christmas’s that I’ve been in this industry.  And, judging from the number of calls and e-mails I’ve received, I was spot on.  Well, that got me to thinking about all of the craziness that’s going to be coming your way after Christmas, because I’ve been through a few of those as well.  I think it’s going to go something like this…

A twenty something year old young man will come into your store holding a box that didn’t come from your store.

“Uh, yeah, uh… I like, got this watch from my grandma for Christmas and I like, don’t really like it.  Can I exchange it for something else?”

Seems like a normal request until you ask for a receipt.

“Uh, she didn’t give me a receipt,” he’ll say telling you his grandma bought it at a jewelry store in Iowa.  That’s all well and good, except your store is in Georgia - and you only have that one store.  So you say, “I’m sorry, but that watch wasn’t bought here.  You’ll need to send it back to your grandmother and have her take it back to the store where she bought it.”

“Well, I ain’t really on speaking terms with her anymore.  Can I just sell it and get some money for it?” he’ll ask.

However you decide to handle this is up to you, but consider this a heads-up, cause he’s gonna come wandering in any day now.

And it’s inevitable that your phone is gonna ring, and the person on the other end will say, “How much do you charge to size a ring?”

Depending on my mood, and the tone of their voice, I’ll either tell them, “it’s $250.00,” or “I’ll need to see it before I can quote a price.”  Seriously, sometimes you can just tell by the tone of voice on the other end of the phone that $250 was the right answer because they hang up and call your competition. 

That is, of course, if I didn’t already say, “I don’t size rings, but if you call ‘so and so’ up the street they’ll be glad to help you.”  Also known as sending them directly to your competition and letting someone else deal with them.

And it wouldn’t be the after Christmas rush if you didn’t hear, “My boyfriend bought this at the mall and they said it’ll take 3 weeks to size it.” 

The rest of the conversation is going to go something like this:

“How much do you charge to size rings?” she’ll ask while standing in my store, probably drawn in by my sign on the road that says ‘Same day ring sizing after Christmas.’

I’ll ask to see it and I’ll quote her a price.  Really, I will.  And I’ll even be nice to her because she’s actually standing in front of me with the ring in her possession.  But then, the conversation always strays to…

“Well, the store it was bought at will do it for free.”

“You should let them size it then,” I’ll say.

“But, I don’t want to wait three weeks.  Can you size it and just send the bill to them?”

“Nope.  I’ll give you a receipt though and you can go back there and have that conversation with them if you’d like.  But, if you want it today, you’ll have to pay for it today.”

“Well, let me call my boyfriend first.”

Then, she’ll stand in the store having a lively conversation about the money, the time, the money, the time, until she finally decides about 2 hours later that she’ll just go ahead and pay so she can have it today.  To which I’ll say, “Uh, ma’am.  That same day sizing thing we talked about was kind of implying that you left it with me 2 hours ago so I’d have time to do it.  It’s too late now to do it today, but I can have it ready for you by noon tomorrow.”

To which she’ll reluctantly agree and sulk away.  I do have a way of making the girls smile, don’t I?

Oh, and let’s not forget about the number of ill-fitting watches that will be given as Christmas presents this year.  They’re all gonna end up in your store too.  Now I don’t know what you charge to adjust a watch band, but I know what I charge to adjust a watch band.  And the ‘right after Christmas’ price is waaaay more than what I charge the other 51 weeks of the year.  I swear people will pay anything to get their new watch adjusted.  It doesn’t matter what price I quote, the customer will just say, “Okay.”

I anticipate this January I’ll get well over a hundred “Okay’s.”  And, that being said, well over a hundred times I’m going to hand the extra links back to the customer, make them get their nose out of their cell phone, really get their attention and say, “DO NOT LOSE THESE LINKS!  THESE ARE THE ONLY REPLACEMENT PARTS FOR YOUR BAND THAT YOU WILL EVER HAVE.”  And I’ll make them acknowledge that they understand.

And, of course, they always understand and they always say they’ll put them up in a safe spot… but they never do.  Because, without fail, some guy is going to come in next week and ask me to put a link back in, and I’ll ask, “Did you bring back the links I gave you that came out of the watch?”

“Uh, I don’t think you gave me any links back.”

Oh geez, he seemed so bright just last week.

Lastly, it wouldn’t be ‘after Christmas’ if this doesn’t happen:

“My boyfriend bought me this bracelet here for Christmas.  I mean, he just doesn’t ever listen to me.  I told him I only wear white gold and this bracelet is yellow gold.  I swear, men.”

You agree that yes, men never listen, and yes, you remember him because you personally sold the bracelet to him.  And, you’re kinda thinking in the back of your head that he could do a whole lot better than her.  But, you explain to her that your store policy is no refunds, but you will issue her a store credit for the amount of the sale.  She’s agreeable so you go back in your little cluttered cubby hole of an office and dig up the paperwork on the sale and issue her a store credit for $1,250.  Then the fireworks begin.

“Uh, sir, I think you’ve made a mistake. This credit is only for $1,250. This is like a $5,000 bracelet.”

Uh oh.  You’re screwed.  Let the games begin.

You try to explain, but you’re now talking to a brick wall.  Your first impression of her seems to be spot on.

“He told me that he paid $5,000 for this bracelet. And I KNOW JEWELRY! This is definitely a $5,000 bracelet.  I want a full credit for what he paid, which is $5,000.”

Of course we all know how this is going to end… BADLY!  You now have no control over what’s about to happen but you know it will happen loudly, with her on the phone with her boyfriend, in the middle of your store, in front of other customers, and for a very long time. 

In the end though, you’re going to issue her a store credit for $1,250 because that’s what the boyfriend paid… on Christmas Eve… at the end of the day… in a hurry… realizing he forgot to buy something for his girlfriend… at the last possible second.  Yes.  You remember him and now you know why he forgot her… because he was trying to forget her.

Anyhow, another Christmas is in the books and I hope everyone had a prosperous and joyful season, and welcome to 2013 and please let me know if I got my predictions right.  Now get out there and sell something.

Note to all the bench jewelers out there: don’t forget to use Mary Kay Satin Hands soap in your shop this winter.  I’ve used it the last four or five winters and my hands haven’t split one time.  The soap has moisturizers in it that just work magic on a bench jewelers’ hands.  Plus, it’s got these little scrubby things in it that just feel so good.  If you don’t have a Mary Kay rep, use mine.  McKensie will be more than happy to take care of you: 615-924-9686 or www.marykay.com/mmorrison7605.

Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide.

If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..